I was lying under the coal black sky, staring at the stars, wishing the ground wasn’t so hard, that crickets would stop that leg rubbing and my parents wouldn’t send me on camping trips in the middle of nowhere. I sighed. No use now. I was stuck out here and that’s all there was to it. I shivered and pulled my cap closer around my ears.
The whole reason I was out in the shivering cold, close to midnight anyway was because of our camp leader, Joe Hobbs. He said if I wished upon a star at midnight it would come true. I had laughed, but he just studied me, those hard blue eyes of his daring me to try it.
“Alright,” I had said smugly. “And I’ll do dish duty the rest of the week if it comes true, but if it doesn’t, you have to promise to give my parents a good report on my behavior.”
“Okay,” He said sticking out his hand. “You got yourself a deal Mr. Thorpe.”
Knowing full well he did not have a good report to give, I was surprised to find myself dragging my sleeping bag out beside the fire while the other boys slept in the tents.
So here I was, lying on the cold hard ground, waiting for some stupid star to appear. If I wished for something common, it could come true by chance, so it had to be something so unusual it could never come true. I would wish to be a star. It wouldn’t come true and I’d finally do something to make my parents let me come home.
I glanced at my watch. Ten till midnight. I settled back into my sleeping bag and waited.
Finally the two hands matched up and I stared straight up into the sky.
“I wish to be a star,” I said to the biggest twinkle of light I could see. Nothing. I snorted. “I knew you couldn’t do anything,” I muttered. But just in case Mr. Hobbes didn’t believe me, I watched the star a little longer.
That’s when it happened. The bright star seemed to be growing bigger, or maybe closer? I squinted my eyes together; they were sure to be playing tricks on me this late at night. I rubbed them and shook my head, but still that star just kept getting closer. Suddenly I realized I was no longer laying in my sleeping bag on the ground, I was moving towards it!
I would have screamed louder than a coon up a tree, but I was too shocked to open my mouth to breathe, much less scream. I shut my eyes tight, but I could still feel myself floating on the chilly air. This must be a dream, or maybe Mr. Hobbes heard my wish and was playing a trick on me. I thought. Yes that had to be it.
Then, my journey ended. I felt light as a feather, floating motionless in the sky. Heart pounding, I squeaked open an eyelid, but shut it just as quickly.
“It’s alright, Henry Thorpe, you can open them,” a woman’s voice, surprisingly deep, but sweet, sounded in my ears, “Are you afraid of a star?”
That really freaked me out, I nodded vigorously in agreement.
She laughed, and the sound was like silver bells tinkling. “Come, open your eyes.”
I blew out the breath I was holding. If this really was a trick being played on me, I didn’t want to add to the joke by being a fool, but if this was real, I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the identity of the thing in front of me. I braved it, and opened my eyes.
All the stars that I had seen from the ground seemed to have disappeared. And there in front of me stood a woman, dressed in a dress glittering like newly polished diamonds. Long white hair cascaded down her shoulders and crystal clear blue eyes pierced through my very soul. Her hair was not the white of age, and her almost transparent skin had not one wrinkle, but glowed softly in the darkness.
She smiled and said, “Look at yourself.”
I gulped, and hesitantly raised my arm; I still possessed five fingers on each hand, but they pulsed with the same glow as the woman. “Ahh!” I jumped back. My clothes were transformed to pure white and shone with a golden light. “What did you do to me?” I gasped, holding up my glowing fingers.
“You wished to become a star didn’t you?” She asked sweetly.
I just stood there staring at her. I bit my lip and took a deep breath through my nose, letting it out slowly.
“You mean... you are a star?” She just looked at me with that -always there- smile. I nodded. “Gotcha. Kinda hard to believe, but I’ll take your word for it. And now you want me to believe I’m a star too?” I said, “Wishes don’t come true and whoever’s idea it was to play this stupid trick better come out now because it’s not working!” I ended the last few words by cupping my hands around my mouth and yelling.
The star lady looked at me calmly. “Are you finished?”
“Good. Come with me.”
I stared open-mouthed as the woman stepped forward. She didn’t float like you would imagine, she walked. I looked down at my once socky feet, now bare and glowing. They felt like they weren’t touching anything. Was she walking on air? I gulped and tentatively took a step. My feet slid onto something smooth and cold, like glass. I could see right through it to the tiny dot of fire where I had made my wish.
A sudden moment of panic caught me. “Wait…what if I don’t want to be a star.” I said running after her.
She turned her head to look at me. “Not want to?” She said, curiously. “Why would you wish for something you didn’t want?”
I looked around me at the glassy surface and my own shiny reflection. “I-I didn’t believe my wish would come true.” I felt my ears go red as I avoided the star lady’s gaze. Feeling her hand on my shoulder, I looked up.
“Come with me and see what you wished for. If you still want to go home, I will reverse your wish,” She said kindly.
“Really?” I said.
I relaxed. If she was telling the truth and I could go home, I wanted to know more about this place. A thought hit me, “Do stars have names?”
She laughed. “Of course, all of the Makers' creations have names. My name is Adelia, and I will be your guide to the night sky.” She raised her hands to the darkness, and it grew brighter as one by one more star people started to appear. It was like they had been there the whole time, but hadn’t shown themselves until now. Some seemed older and some younger, but also ageless; mortal and supernatural all at the same time.
At first each star seemed to resemble another, but the more I looked, I realized they were each unique in personality and stature. One of the stars, a younger girl, smiled at me and giggled as she skipped into line with some other young looking stars.
I felt my eyes grow round as I stared at the beauty surrounding me. All the star people swirled around me singing, laughing and talking, but always in patterns. Some stood in straight lines, clusters, or spaced out in what looked to be some sort of image or shape.
“What are they doing?” I asked Adelia, who stood beside me still.
“They are going about the instructions they have been given.”
“Did you give them the instructions?” I asked.
She smiled. “No, they are given to me by the Maker.”
“I don’t understand.” I turned in a circle looking about me. “None of this makes any sense.” I gestured to the stars. “I never imagined this is what it was like,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief. This couldn’t be real. Or could it?
“I have more to show you.”
I tore my eyes away from the dancing star people and followed Adelia, hoping she would explain what I was seeing.
“They all look so happy,” I said.
“They are following the commands of their Maker and are blessed with happiness and joy.” She said, still walking ahead.
“But do they ever get tired of doing what the instructions say?” I asked, remembering all the times I had slipped away to the pond to fish instead of tending to my chores or going to school.
She looked at me with that same unwavering gaze, and I looked away red-faced. It is disconcerting to feel that your thoughts are being read. “Some do, but they can never find true contentment that way.” She kept walking deeper into the sky. The stars grew scarcer and the only light seemed to come from the two of us. “All of the Makers’ instructions are to protect us.” She stopped, and there in front of us was a hole in the glass-like surface.
“When stars choose to forge their own path, they walk blindly into the darkness and lose their way.” She stepped aside, “Look.”
Tiptoeing to the edge, I looked down, gasped and stumbled back. The hole led straight down into a grey nothingness. “Is that...” I looked up into her eyes.
She nodded. “Most often they fall, that’s what you know as shooting stars.”
I thought of all the times I had spotted a shooting star with my Dad, we had cheered in our excitement of seeing one. But now, it wasn’t a beautiful thing after all? “So stars die?”
“Some do, others accept the forgiveness of the Maker, and choose to help someone in need on earth before they come back to their place.”
“I might have met a star before?” I asked, remembering the same blue in Joe Hobbs’s eyes.
She smiled. “Perhaps.” Her dress glittered as she led me on still farther. “Now, I have one more thing to show you.”
Suddenly the darkness burst into sprinkles of light, color, and more glowing stars. Blue, purple, orange, and a creamy white surrounded everything. “The milky way...” I breathed.
Adelia tilted her head back and smiled. “That’s what you humans call it. We call it the Maker’s way. He created it’s beauty for us and you to enjoy. This is where we gather together when our Maker has no special task for us. Here we find peace and happiness in his creation.”
I shook my head in amazement. Never had I seen or felt such beauty. “I had no idea,” I said, trying to take it all in.
“Our world in the sky is so much bigger and full of wonder than you think, but I cannot show you more until you decide if you truly wish to become a star.”
I felt my chest tighten. How could I leave? I had the choice to live in this beautiful place, walking through the sky and looking down upon all the people below, who saw me only as a speck of light.
Dad had decided to send me away instead of taking me with them to Europe because I had cheated on my test and been expelled from school two weeks before break. He hadn’t even said goodbye, just walked into the office and shut the door. I had hated him and myself for it. I wouldn’t have to face his disappointment again. No school, no summer camp with other boys left by their families. I could be free.
Then I remembered my mom’s face when I left for camp. She had looked so sad, like I had wounded her more than she and Dad were wounding me. She hadn’t hugged or kissed me, but on the bus I found my favorite cookies still warm, carefully wrapped and hidden in my backpack. That hurt more than if she hadn’t sent them.
I looked around at the stars laughing, smiling, and talking. Never again would I feel my mom’s arms holding me tight or stick my toes into the cool mud of the river, and I could never shake dad’s hand man to man because he was proud of who I would become.
“I couldn’t go back to being a human being, could I?” I said.
Adelia's blue eyes looked straight into mine. “No,” she said, “you couldn’t.” This woman who had known my name, I felt certain, knew so much more.
I imagined walking up the old gravel driveway with mom and dad standing by the door, arms outstretched to welcome me...home. I took one last look around me then turned to face Adelia. I was ready to make things right. “I’d like to go home.”
She nodded. “I will show you how.”
She led me back to the spot where I had first seen her. “Remember that you too can find happiness if you follow the Maker, to obey the rules he has put in place to protect and bless you.” She stepped back. “And remember that sometimes wishes do come true.” She gave me one last beautiful smile and disappeared into the night.
I blinked and raised myself onto my elbows. I was in my sleeping bag at the edge of a dying fire. Had it all been a dream? I looked up at the sky and stars twinkled back at me. But one star stood out from the rest. “The Adelia star.” I whispered, sinking into my pillow.
Even if it was a dream, I would tell Joe Hobbes about it. Somehow I knew he would listen, and believe it was true too. I snuggled down deeper into my sleeping bag and gazed up at the sky. The ground wasn't that hard anyway.
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Nice job! Wonderful descriptions!
Well done! I love the character development you have--it's not easy to get that much character development in such a short story. The only thing I could suggest is to use a little more sentence variety at some points, but it looks amazing!
Thanks so much! I really appreciate that. I will definitely be keeping that in mind. :)
I love this story! Very great job my friend! :)